When we visited NYC a couple years ago, we were able to check out Brooklyn Boulders. We had so much fun there that we ended up staying for 6 hours when normally we’d be at the gym 3 max. When we decided to move to New York, our top priority for apartment hunting was based on how easy it was to get to the gym. Now, it’s easily our second home.
It’s hard to believe that it’s been 3 years since we first started climbing in San Diego. It feels like just yesterday. Since we move to a new city every year and also travel quite a bit, we’ve been able to visit a lot of climbing gyms and meet many different climbers.
This week, we decided to put together some hacks, tips, and tricks that we learned from others over the years plus some more insightful tips we recently learned from Garrett, the head setter at Brooklyn Boulders. Hopefully, these will help you get better faster on your climbing journey.
15 ROCK CLIMBING TIPS, HACKS, TRICKS, AND ETIQUETTE
1. Funky Shoes
Depending on the person (and shoe), climbing shoes can have a STRONG odor caused by moisture. Mine are pretty nasty since I’m constantly scared and constantly sweating. The best way to combat funky shoes is to make sure you take them off in between climbs and dry them as soon as possible after your climbing session. Some people use a hair dryer to dry out any moisture, then add cedar chips, baking soda, baby powder, or gold bond into the shoes.
Anyone else has these shoes?
When they get unbearable, I take some laundry detergent and scrub them down with a toothbrush.
2. Shower in Your Shoes or It’s Hammer Time
We’ve had a hard time explaining how climbing shoes should fit, but think about them like ballet shoes. You want to have a slight curl and be able to stand on your toes. In other words, they should be uncomfortable but not painful. If your toes are crossing or curling under, then you should get a bigger size. Once you have your shoes, it helps to break them in. Wearing them at the gym does that, but here are a couple hacks that also help accelerate the process:
Shower with them! We’ve heard this one from several climbers when we were first starting out. The warm water in the shower will help stretch the shoes out. Just be sure to let them fully dry before wearing them to climb.
15 on 15 off. You can bring your shoes with you to the office and put them on for 15 minutes, then take your heel out for 15 minutes to give them a break. Do this a few times to start breaking them in.
Hit them with a hammer. Grab a hammer, bend your shoes in half, and hit them along the sole. This will start breaking in the leather. This is a tip from the lead setter at Brooklyn Boulders and it was the first time I heard about it.
Some people who boulder don’t wear chalk bags on their waist and prefer to use a large chalk bucket and leave it on the mat. If you sweat as much as I do, halfway up the climb, the chalk dissolves on my hands. Another climber told me to put some extra chalk on my forearms so that when I need it I can easily transfer it to my hands. Also, if you’re petrified by heights while you’re climbing, it’s also less scary than having to reach behind you for your chalk bag.
4. Take Care of Your Hands
Climbing puts a lot of stress on your hands, especially in places you wouldn’t normally during everyday activities. You’ll often see climbers tape their fingers or wrists. This helps when your hands are getting beat up or skin is getting torn. We recommend chatting with other climbers to learn different ways to do this. We’ve also found that using an ointment on your hands after climbing really helps them heal quicker. We use this Metolius Hand Repair Balm after every climb.
Most importantly, the best way to take care of your hands is to know when to rest. We’ll talk about this more in a bit.
Typically, we wear the same workout clothes we would wear to any other gym, but this past year we discovered Boulder Jeans. They’re great to wear every day and you never know when you want to make a spontaneous trip to the gym (we’ve been going almost every day lately!). They are comfortable, stretchy, and chalk will easily wipe off of it. They also have huge pockets that are great for overall traveling. You should check them out!
ROCK CLIMBING ETIQUETTE
As you start climbing at the gym, it’s always helpful to know proper etiquette. This is especially helpful when the gym is busy. Here are some basic rules:
6. Don’t be a Spraylord
A big part of climbing is figuring out each problem. Don’t yell beta at people without being asked (if you don’t know what beta means, read this to learn basic climbing vocab). It’s like spoiling the ending of a movie. If you do want to offer guidance to someone who looks like they are struggling with a problem, ask if they want any beta first. Here are other ways you might be a Spraylord (read it! It’s hilarious. I know we’re guilty of some of these).
7. To spot or not to spot.
Spotting is a common practice outdoors but depending on who you ask or where you are, it may or may not be common indoors. Only spot someone if asked and you know how to properly spot them, otherwise you could risk even more injury. For example, when I know there is a portion of the problem I might fall on, I may fall in a specific way knowing that the mat is below me. If suddenly someone is there trying to spot me, I or him/her could get hurt even more. You can always ask for a spot as well!
8. Brush Your Holds
Generally, you’ll see people brush the holds while they’re working on a problem, but it’s also nice to brush them after so that it’s ready for the next person to climb (especially if you tend to over chalk). It’s like when you go the gym and after you use the equipment, you wipe it down as a courtesy to the next person. This isn’t a common practice, but it’s courteous.
Also, if you sweat a lot, please wipe the holds! A few weeks ago, I was working on a climb and got to a part where I was taken by surprise and my hands completely slipped off what should have been a good hold. When I looked at my hands, they were covered in a gray sludge of chalk and someone else’s sweat.
9. Be Aware and Mindful of Others
This one is a common mistake with new climbers. Even when the gym is busy, they’ll get on the wall and try a move over and over and not realize the crowd of people waiting to try the same problem or the one next to it. Typically you should only try once or twice then step back and let others have a go at it.
If you want to work on a problem but someone is on there and it looks like they almost have it, it’s nice to let them finish up before you get on to figure out your own beta. You may ruin the flow and groove they have going.
10. Stand Away from the Walls and Keep Your Bottles and Bags in Check.
It’s always important to be aware of where people are climbing and where they potentially may fall. Stay clear of any of these areas.
We’ve seen people really hurt themselves land on water bottles or tripping over chalk bags (this happened to one of our friends in Portland). Be aware of where they are and make sure they are clear of any landings.
TIPS TO IMPROVE YOUR ROCK CLIMBING TECHNIQUE
11. Try Something Different if You’re Plateauing
Sometimes climbing can get frustrating because it doesn’t feel like you’re progressing. For example, you may be able to flash all V3s, but can’t even start most V4s. When you reach this plateau, try not to stay focused on climbing the rating ladder. Often times, you get so focused on wanting to climb the next level, that you get discouraged and that hinders you from getting better. Once you feel like your plateauing, rather than trying the same thing over and over with no progress, change what you’re doing. Change the type of climbs, slopers vs crimps, overhung vs slab, or top roping vs bouldering, or even play climbing games/exercises.
12. Know When to Rest
If you feel your fingers getting sore or fatigued from doing certain problems, try to mix it up with different types or styles of climbs. When climbing, there’s always a risk of injury especially if you push yourself too far outside your ability. Jacob recently hurt one of his fingers, and most climbers said the best thing to do is let it rest so you don’t risk an even more serious injury. (However, most people also have trouble practicing what they preach and end up regretting it later. This includes our climber friend who is a doctor ).
Depending on the severity of the injury, it also doesn’t mean you have to stop climbing. For example, when Jacob hurt his left hand, he did easier climbs with his right hand only and worked on footwork and positioning instead.
As always, staying hydrated and stretching really helps. If you are injured, you should consult a doctor and if you’re interested in reading up more about climbing injuries, this book is a great resource.
13. Top Rope Will Help You Work on Stamina
You may love bouldering more than rope climbing, but it’s the sprint versus the marathon. We found that we learned technique better through bouldering, but we don’t get to work on stamina as much. If you try bouldering and are scared of the idea, you can also start on ropes. It’s easier to get comfortable knowing that the rope is there to catch you, and it tends to be less soul-crushing.
14. Try a Climbing Comp
Most gyms hold comps for all skill levels. We have yet to enter one but plan on trying this year. It’s a unique experience where everyone is trying the same climbs for the first time.
15. Make Friends
One of the fun parts of climbing is being able to workshop a problem together with other climbers. It’s also interesting to see that different people approach a problem in different ways. Now we have a small group of climbing friends that we hang out within and out of the gym, but it all started by working on a bouldering problem together.
Have you been climbing or bouldering before? Do you have any other hacks you can think of?
If you’re ever in NYC, come climb with us at Brooklyn BouldersQueensbridge! We’re practically there every day.
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ESTHER + JACOB
Esther and Jacob are the founders of Local Adventurer, which is one of the top 50 travel blogs in the world. They believe that adventure can be found both near and far and hope to inspire others to explore locally. They explore a new city every year and currently base themselves in NYC.
Spring is the perfect time to visit Oregon, especially when the tulips are in bloom. I’ve always wanted to visit the Skagit Tulip Festival in Washington, but after visiting the Wooden Shoe Tulip Festival, I personally think Mount Hood makes a better backdrop (fingers crossed you go on a clear day). The colorful rows of tulips are beautiful and Hood looks majestic, which makes for amazing photos. It’s any photographer’s dream.
When we lived in Portland, we visited the 40 acre Tulip farm twice. Both times were well worth the 40-minute drive.
YOUR ULTIMATE GUIDE TO THE WOODEN SHOE TULIP FESTIVAL OREGON – WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW BEFORE YOU GO
The 2018 Season runs from March 23–April 29 and daily from 9 am to 6 pm. Each year, the exact dates will differ a bit but will generally be around the same time.
As you can imagine, the weekends are much busier than during the week, so if you want to avoid the crowds or if you’re going to shoot photos, you should absolutely try to go during the week. The first time we went, it was for sunrise on a Saturday, and I was surprised by the crowd of photographers dedicated enough to wake up for it. It makes sense, though, since the peak bloom has such a limited time frame and it’s so weather dependent.
The advantage of going during the weekend is that there are more activities available, which is great for families who want to make a full day out of their trip.
THINGS TO DO AT THE WOODEN SHOE TULIP FARM
These activities are open daily unless otherwise noted.
Tulip & Daffodil Display Beds
Wooden Shoe Gardens
Tram &/or Hay Wagon Ride
Children’s Play Area
Photo Cut-out Boards
Cow Train ($4 pp)
Field Train ($5 pp)
Food: Mt. Angel Sausage Company, Loco Ono BBQ (Thurs-Sunday), Coffee Cart (Thurs-Sunday)
Wooden Shoe Vineyards Tasting Room
Field Greenhouse Tent
Wooden Shoe Making Demonstration (weekends only)
Stream Tractor Demonstration (weekends only and weather dependent)
Crafter Market Place (weekends only)
Local Balloon Artists (weekends only and weather dependent)
Pony Rides (weekends only and weather dependent)
Tulip the Cow Meet & Greet (weekends only)
Wine Wagon Farm Tour (weekends only and 21+)
Additional Kids Activities are available during the weekends only and are $3-7: Jump Tents, Bungee Jumper, Pony Rides, Rock Wall & Zip Line.
Hot Air Balloon Rides
We were hoping to catch some photos with Hot Air Balloons in the air, but the weather didn’t work out during our visits. Of course, you can also go on a hot air balloon ride to see the tulips from above! For information about flying or booking a ride, visit their list of approved Balloonists here.
WHICH TICKET TO PURCHASE
Depending on your interest, there are a few different ticket options for the Tulip Fest. All admissions include parking, walking access to the tulip fields, Tram & Hay Rides to and from the fields, access to Wooden Shoe Gardens, and more!
You can purchase tickets online or onsite, but to save time, purchase your tickets online.
Season Pass $40 – This is the one we got and it covers the entire car. It gives you access all 6 weeks of the festival and allows early and late entrance (one hour before sunrise and one hour after sunset), which is especially important for photographers.
Individual Admission $5 (Ages 13+) – One day access during the regular 9am-6pm hours.
Family Car One Day Pass $20 – One day entrance for the entire car during regular 9am-6pm hours.
Sunrise Individual Entrance Pass $15 – One person can get access during prime early mornings (1 hour before sunrise).
If you are visiting more than once or with multiple people specifically for photography, we recommend getting the season pass.
About the Farm
The farm was started in 1950 by Ross and Dorothy Iverson, who continued to expand the farm as they put their six kids through college. In the late 1970s, they bought a few acres of tulip bulbs from Dr. Homan, who was retiring, and by the early 1980’s, they had over 15 acres. They started the Wooden Shoe Bulb Company, which took off in 1985 when they opened their fields for Easter weekend. In 2001, they changed their name to the Wooden Shoe Tulip Farm, and currently, it is a popular destination to visit in Oregon.
Buying and Keeping Fresh Cut Flowers
Tulips can stay in bloom for over 8 weeks, starting as early as late February and until late April. Most of them start at the end of March. They pick flowers by hand, wash them, and wrap them in clear cello to protect them. They are then stored in cold storage (33°F) in water. You can purchase fresh cut flowers onsite at the Gift Shop from March to April (special dates vary depending on n weather). You can also have them shipped to you.
Once you purchase them, keep in mind that tulips can last up to 8 hours without water. They will take 1-3 days to open. I wanted to come home with some, but we didn’t get any because tulips are poisonous to cats and dogs, and we have a hard time keeping them out of their reach.
Contact Info & Address
Wooden Shoe Tulip Festival
33814 S. Meridian Rd.
Woodburn, OR 97071
ESSENTIAL TIPS FOR GOING TO THE WOODEN SHOE TULIP FESTIVAL
The best way to find out the current status of the Tulip Fields is to check out the current Field Report. They give an update on what’s happening and include photos.
During sunrise, expect there to be a lot of photographers out, but the farm is big and there are still plenty of places to shoot from.
Be mindful of the flowers. They spend a lot of time growing them for everyone to enjoy, and it’s sad to see when they get trampled.
They hold special events throughout the season, like photography classes, 5K/10K runs, and more. Find details here.
Well behaved dogs are allowed on leashes.
WHAT TO PACK
Rain Gear – The Pacific Northwest gets a LOT of rain, which means, during your visit it’s likely to be really muddy. Be prepared with the proper footwear (the mud gets slippery) and clothes you don’t mind getting muddy.
We’ve been living in NYC for a few months now, and we’re slowly working our way through the city. If you’re visiting the city for the first time and want an area to spend a whole day in, the Rockefeller Center complex is an easy choice. Without having to go more than a couple blocks, you’ll find some of the most iconic NYC attractions, plenty of great shopping, restaurants, shows, and more.
To help you make the most use of your time, we put together a comprehensive guide to the area and our favorite parts of the area.
If you do only one thing at the Rockefeller Center, this would be our suggestion. We’ve been twice, and I would go back again. This is by far our favorite view of the city so far.
Once you arrive at the top, there are three levels to explore with both indoor and outdoor viewing decks. From one side of the building you can see downtown with the Empire State Building in the center of it all, and if you go to the other side, you see Central Park and the north side of Manhattan. Right now, it has construction blocking the Central Park side that makes it an eyesore, but it’s overall still worth going to see the ESB side. See our full photo diary and tips for TOTR here.
Hours: Top of the Rock is open 8 AM to Midnight 7 days of the week (with exceptions on holidays). The very first elevator goes up at 8 AM and the very last one goes up at 11:15 PM.
Best Time to Go: Sunset is best for photography but the most crowded. Early morning during the winter gets you as close to sunrise as possible. It’s not as crowded right when it opens on weekdays and during inclement weather. Just call in to ask how visibility is.
Tickets to a Tonight Show Taping or the Tonight Show Monologue Rehearsals are free. Once the month’s tickets went live, there were 6 available days on the calendar, and I applied for all 6. When the first three taping dates came around, we didn’t make the cut, but one of the mornings, I received an email saying two spots opened up.
We arrived at 30 Rock at 3:05 and they immediately directed us up the stairs where we waited in line to check in. At 3:15, the check-in process started. We had to present our ticket and IDs then go through security. Everyone was brought into the Peacock Room where we waited for the next instructions. During that time, NBC Pages mingle with the crowd. Around 4:15 PM, they started bringing everyone into the studio. Once everyone is seated, they go over some basic instructions and the taping begins.
NOTE: No photography or videography are allowed in the waiting area or studio. If you are caught doing it, they will escort you out.
Everything goes quick, and we were out by 6 PM. We went to a Conan taping in LA, and this experience was cozier, there were seating areas, and it didn’t feel like we were being herded like cattle. As much as I love Conan, Jimmy seemed much more personable, and even took time to come out to the audience and answer questions (not sure if this happens every taping).
How to Request Tickets to a Tonight Show Taping
Tickets are released one month at a time, typically during the first week of the previous month. For example, July tickets are released in June, August tickets are released in July, and so and so forth. Here is what you need to do to apply for a ticket:
At the beginning of each month, keep an eye on the @FallonTix twitter account. They will announce when the following month’s tickets are available.
When the announcement is made, visit Tonightshowtix.com and request tickets for any of the dates that work for you. This does not guarantee you a ticket, you are simply putting your name on the waitlist.
Wait to receive a confirmation email that you made the list. They will send you instructions on where to go and when you need to be there (we also go over some of this in the tips below)
How to Get Standby Tickets to a Tonight Show Taping
If you missed out on tickets and are already in town, the second option is going for a standby ticket. During our taping, they let in at least 30 people from standby. To get standby tickets you have to:
Call the Ticket Office to confirm that are taping the day you want to attend. The phone number is 212.664.3056 and they are open 9 AM to 5 PM EST Monday through Friday.
Arrive no later than 9 AM the morning of the taping. The line starts on 49th Street between 5th and 6th Avenue at the Tonight Show sign.
Numbered standby tickets are given out in order to guests at 9 AM and they will give you specific instructions on when you need to return to check-in again. (Note: Everyone attending must be present with a valid photo ID containing date of birth)
Any available standby tickets that were not handed out at 9 AM will be available at the NBC Greeter’s stand by the Grand Staircase.
How to Request Tonight Show Monologue Rehearsal Tickets
If you weren’t lucky enough to get a regular show taping, You can always sign up to see the Monologue Rehearsal. This is where Jimmy tries out his monologue jokes for that night’s show to a live audience. That way he can see what works and what doesn’t to make edits before the full taping. The sign-up process is exactly the same as requesting tickets for a Tonight Show Taping.
Note: The Monologue Rehearsal usually conflicts with trying for Standby Tickets so you won’t be able to do both.
Additional Way to Win Tickets to a Tonight Show Taping
Every Thursday that they are taping, they use the @FallonTonight twitter account or a FallonTonight Instagram Story to share the location of one of their interns somewhere in NYC. The first person to find this intern receives a pair of tickets.
On most Fridays, they also give away two VIP tickets through a trivia question about the show. Follow @FallonTonight on twitter and #FallonTicketFriday to keep an eye out for those questions.
Tips & Other Info
Once you attend a taping or rehearsal, you cannot attend another one for 6 months.
Use the 50 West 50th Street entrance then head to the Grand Stair (if you’re not sure where it, just ask someone).
They give out more tickets than there are seats. The studio has a capacity of roughly 200 people so once that is full, you will be turned away.
Be sure to bring your confirmation letter with you. You need this to check in.
Bring your ID (that includes a date of birth). It will be required for everyone attending the taping.
Everyone attending must be at least 16 years old and the entire party needs to arrive together.
Leave large backpacks, suitcases, and large shopping bags at home or at the hotel. They are not allowed at the taping, and there isn’t anywhere to check them in.
Lineup for checkin begins no earlier than 3:15 PM on the day of the taping. We arrived at 3:05 and there were already people waiting. We had no issues making the cut though.
Checkin ends at 3:45 PM so be sure to arrive before then.
Please arrive at the Grand Stair to claim your tickets no later than 3:45 PM, as ticket reservations will not be honored after this time.
You might be on camera so dress appropriately for that. They can deny you entry if they don’t think you’re okay to be on camera.
I may be dreaming, but this has been on my bucket list FOREVER. The Saturday Night Live ticket lottery runs once a year. For the 2017-2018 season, it ran from August 1st to August 31st, so my guess is that will be similar for the 2018-2019 season. To apply, you send an email to SNLTickets@nbcuni.com and tell them why you want to be a part of the studio audience. You better come up with one hell of an email. There’s less than a one percent chance, but if you are selected, you receive two tickets to a random show date and time.
Stand-by tickets are also distributed at 7 AM the mornings of a show at the 48th Street Side of 30 Rockefeller Plaza. Everyone who wants to attend must be present with a valid photo ID. We heard of some folks who got lucky when they waited at 2 AM that day, but we also heard of cases where they had to wait for several days.
Have you been to an SNL taping? We’d love to hear about your experience.
4. Tour at NBC Studios
Get a behind-the-scenes look at one of the most famous studios in the world. This is where TV was first broadcasted. Ever. An NBC Page takes you through 30 Rock where you’ll learn about how TV shows are made and even get a glimpse into the studios of Saturday Night Live, The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon, Late Night with Seth Meyers, and more. You even get a chance to produce your own show in the Tour Studio, which can be a little awkward if you hate being on camera. When we were on our tour, I kept imagining that first episode of 30 Rock.
Hours: The very first Tour at NBC Studios starts at 8:20 AM 7 days of the week and goes every 20 minutes from then. From Monday to Thursday, the last tour is 2:20 PM. On Friday it’s at 5 PM, and on the weekends, it’s at 6 PM. It lasts for about 65 minutes.
The Tour starts and ends at The Shop at NBC Studios located on the lobby level of 30 Rock.
Like most of these attractions, it’s best to reserve your tickets online, especially during the summer, holidays, and weekends.
NBC Studios is a live facility, so they can’t guarantee you will see specific studios. If they are currently filming, then you won’t be able to stop by.
You’re not allowed to take any photos during the tour, but they do have a couple photo opps of the Today Show desk and the judge’s chair from the Voice at their gift shop. This is also free to do with or without the tour.
5. Rockefeller Center Tour
We haven’t done this one yet, but when we do we’ll write more about the experience. If you want to see a different side of the Rockefeller Center, then go on this tour to learn about the history and artwork scattered throughout the center. An expert historian takes you back in time and walks you through some of the most significant spaces in the complex. You’ll most likely learn about art pieces and history you would have normally walked right past otherwise.
Hours: Tours run every half hour from 10 AM to 7:30 PM, excluding 6 and 6:30 PM, 7 days a week.
Ticket Prices: Similar to Top of the Rock, tickets are timed, but you can also purchase unscheduled tickets. Unschedule tickets do need to be exchanged for timed tickets within 180 days though. Also, if you plan on visiting Top of the Rock as well, pick up to the Rock Pass to save some money.
Tour Tickets $25
Rock Pass $48
Tips & Other Info
The tour lasts roughly 1 hour and 15 minutes.
This tour does not include NBC Studios or Radio City Music Hall.
The tour runs regardless of weather, although they may focus more on the interior if it’s raining or snowing. Regardless, you will still have to travel from building to building to be dressed accordingly.
Each tour has a maximum of 20 people, and they can run up to 3 groups at a time.
Everyone will have a personal headset so you can hear over all the crowds and noise without missing a beat.
6. Radio City Music Hall: Stage Door Tour
It was nice getting a behind-the-scenes look at one of the most iconic venues in the world. You learn about the history of the stage, marvel at the art, and even get a chance to meet a Rockette, take a photo with her, and ask some questions.
This historic building has the original hydraulics from 1932 and they even have some of the original Donald Deskey furniture. Did you know there’s even an apartment (that is now used as an event space) in the building? The tour really made us want to see a show or concert here.
Hours: Tours run daily from 9:30 AM to 5 PM.
Ticket Prices: Adults $28 + Children (12 & under), Students, and Seniors $24
Tips & Other Info
The tour starts at the Radio City Music Hall box office on 6th Avenue between 50th and 51st Streets.
Tour groups usually max out at 20 people.
You are allowed to take as many photos as you want, but no video is allowed.
Some areas are very low light, so bring a lens that is good for low light. No tripods are allowed.
7. Brunch at the Rainbow Room
The Rainbow Room lives on the 65th floor of 30 Rockefeller Plaza and has been open since 1934. It’s a private event space that has held weddings, movie premieres, fashion shows, birthdays, and more. It has always been a focal point for the city’s elite and it’s easy to see why. With such amazing views, it makes for the perfect venue.
The Rainbow Room is open Sundays for brunch and for Dinner & Dancing on certain weekdays. The best way to find out when they are open is to call their reservation line at 212.632.5000. You can make reservations up to 60 days in advance.
In addition to that, they have seasonal events in the Rainbow Room. For example, during February, they opened a pop-up bar aimed at couples during Valentine’s season. If your schedule conflicts with those days, you can also go to Bar SixtyFive across from the Rainbow Room from Monday to Friday 5 PM to Midnight or Sunday from 4 PM to 9 PM.
8. The Rink at Rockefeller Center (seasonal)
If you’re visiting NYC during the winter, you can head to the rink at Rockefeller to watch people from above or lace up and ice skate. We haven’t been ice skating for years, but it was fun experience to skate in one of the most iconic ice skating rinks in the US.
We did the VIP Skate so our entrance was from the Concourse side. After arriving at the check-in igloo, we got fitted for skates, checked in our bag, and sipped on hot chocolate while watching the Zamboni make its way around the rink.
Once they were finished, they let us onto the ice moments before the general public. Our visit was in mid-January, so most of the holiday crowds had already thinned out. I would guess there were about 60 people on the ice.
Hours: The Rink is open daily from 8:30 AM to 12 AM. The season typically starts early October and ends mid-April, but the schedule can change each year depending on the weather. The rink opens in rain and snow.
Ticket Prices: For general admission, it is a first-come, first-served.
Adults Peak (Dec 15 – Jan 1) $32
Adults Standard $25
Children Under 11 & Seniors $15
Skate Rental $12
You can also book one of the following experiences:
Skate Lessons $50
VIP Skate (skip the lines & includes skate rentals) $60
Starlight Skate (last skate of the day) $37-$47
Lastly, they have meals (breakfast, lunch, dinner, afternoon tea) and skate combos throughout the day that range from $45 to $89 depending on the meal you are having.
Tips & Other Info
They only allow 150 skaters at a time and will be at capacity throughout the busy season around the holidays.
If you are here all season, they do sell season passes for $275 (or $450 with a locker).
Each skate session runs for 90 minutes. 8:30-10 AM, 10:30 AM – 12 PM, 12:30-2 PM, 4:30-6 PM, 6:30-8 PM 8:30-10 PM, and 10:30 PM – 12 AM
Be aware of other skaters. There is a wide range of skating abilities and you don’t want others and yourself to get hurt.
They do not allow selfies (particularly while moving) on the ice. If you want to take photos, you can skate to the side and ask someone else to take them for you.
9. Christmas Tree + The Channel Gardens
One of the most recognizable Christmas trees is the one at Rockefeller. Most people visiting New York during the holidays make a stop here. The tree usually goes up at the end of November and comes down early to mid-January. Channel Gardens nestled in between 49th and 50th street near 5th Avenue and gives you a great foreground to shoot the tree and 30 Rock. The gardens also have different unique themed plant installations throughout the year, so you can see something new year-round.
WHERE TO EAT + DRINK + SHOP
There are over 50 restaurants, cafes, and bars to choose from in the Rockefeller Center. You can grab a quick sandwich or spend the evening enjoying a fancy meal. Find the complete list here and below are a few highlights.
Bar SixtyFive at Rainbow Room – one of the best views in the city. The bar is across from the Rainbow room and it’s open to the public from Monday to Friday 5 PM to Midnight or Sunday from 4 PM to 9 PM. They have a strict Cocktail Chic dress code and you can make reservations.
Magnolia Bakery – an NYC staple with delicious Banana Pudding. The other baked goods aren’t that great.
You can also spend all day shopping in the area. There are over 100 stores ranging from souvenirs to the latest fashion. Browse their entire list here. Anyone who grew up playing Nintendo (or still plays now) needs to stop by Nintendo NY. It’s unique to the city and has a bunch of games to play and souvenirs to nerd out on. Jacob has a hard time leaving when we go.
This post is sponsored by SquareTrade Go. All opinions are always our own.
Thank you for supporting the brands that make Local Adventurer possible.
Time suddenly moves in slow motion as I see my phone spin mid-air as it slips out of my hand. I desperately grab at it hoping to save it, but moments later, time catches up with me and my phone lays face down on the sidewalk.
We’ve all had moments like this. Hopefully, you didn’t crack your screen like I did, but that feeling of dropping your phone and wondering whether it survived the fall is the worst. The funny thing is a lot of us keeping using our phones even when they’re cracked or scratched. My screen was cracked and Esther had a big scratch on hers for a while.
I know I have my laziness to blame for not getting it fixed. I hate dealing with setting up an appointment at the Apple store, getting there, then waiting (even though I already set up an appointment). On top of that, you end up finding out that it costs more than you thought to fix. The other option is going to a random repair store where you have to worry about whether they’ll fix it correctly.
Now that we’re living in NYC, we’re all about finding convenience. We’ve never ordered food in, shopped online, and even grocery shop via delivery services as much as we do now. SquareTrade Go fits perfectly into the New York lifestyle. We both have used SquareTrade for a few years now and have even had our phones replaced through it, but this was our first time checking out the Squaretrade Go, their new on-demand phone repair service.
Our Repair Experience – They Come to You!
They come to you so that you don’t have a let a cracked screen be an inconvenience anymore. We set up an appointment to get both of our phones fixed, and our technician, Christopher, came to our building.
He spent some time diagnosing both our phones to ensure nothing else was wrong with it, then started fixing the screens. While he worked, we chatted and I found out that he’s been to offices, bars, restaurants, apartments, homes, and even a masseuse parlor on previous jobs.
Before I knew it, we both had new screens and we were good to go! I was able to keep working, and now we know that in the future if we ever crack our screens, we can schedule them to come out to wherever we’re on an adventure.
Check out this vlog that I did:
Say No to Cracked Screens! - YouTube
Join us in saying ‘No’ to cracked screens. Use Coupon Code: LocalAdventurer40 for $40 off your repair*.
*Repairs are currently available in select locations. Visit SquareTradeGo.com to see if repairs are offered in your area.
More of What You Need to Know
Go Techs are all certified by SquareTrade.
For you researchers out there, you can find a bunch of reviews about SquareTrade Go online.
Esther and Jacob are the founders of Local Adventurer, which is one of the top 50 travel blogs in the world. They believe that adventure can be found both near and far and hope to inspire others to explore locally. They explore a new city every year and are currently in NYC.
Washington DC, our nation’s capital, hasn’t always stayed perched on its toes when it comes to providing locals with top notch, high quality, and creative food, but that has changed here recently. Though DC looms big on the map, the city is quite small. You can feel the pride and love for this city by its people. The restaurants are owned and fueled by local people with fierce passion and identity to their place, many who have left their mentors to claim their own identity.
Many say that in 2016, DC finally arrived to hold a place on the national food scene shared by NYC, LA, and SF. Though they have been the underdog for a long time coming, those days are over. We have worked with local David Bubb to bring you the best eats the city has to offer.
“Discovery consists not of seeking new lands but in seeing with new eyes” – M. Proust
CAROLINE + ERIN
They are freelance web designers and photographers who love finding adventure, both big and small. The two make a daily practice of sharing vulnerabilities, truth-telling, and side-splitting laughter. They’ve honed the art of traveling fast and doing all of the things that an adventurer can do in a day or two. The couple lives in Asheville, North Carolina and spend as much time as possible in the mountains.
We moved to NYC 3 months ago and plan on using it as a home base to explore the Northeast. We moved to five new cities the past five years, and NYC is so different from any other place we’ve lived. Never in my life did I imagine myself moving here. Sure, Jacob and I loved visiting. We loved the food and the endless number of things to do, but after a week, the city wore us out so much that we were done and ready to leave. Living here, however, has been an entirely different experience.
If you are considering moving to NYC, we put together some tips to help ease you through the transition. We are newbies and the transition still feels fresh, but we also asked for tips from our more experienced New Yorker friends.
Caty & Ted have lived here nearly 20 years combined. Caty grew up in New Jersey and moved to NYC for school and has been here working in finance ever since. Ted moved here from LA and is best known for being one of the co-founders of Wong Fu Productions and Awkward Animal as well as the founder of Giant Hugs.
Charlene has lived in New York for the last 10 years. During her first seven years here, she worked in advertising and experiential marketing but now is a competitive ballroom dancer, freelance event planner, and dance therapist for Alzheimer’s patients. You can follow her ny adventures here.
Julia moved to NYC in July 2017 and is currently living with her husband and Goldendoodle in Flatiron. She works from home as a communications manager for P&G.
MOVING TO NEW YORK ADVICE FROM LOCALS
1. What was the hardest thing(s) to adjust to when moving here?
The Prices – We knew that NYC was the most expensive US city to live in, and we tried to prep ourselves, but it still shocks me whenever we eat out and get the bill. If you use yelp as a gauge for how much you think you’ll spend, expect the scale to be different here. One dollar sign means two, two means three, and three means four. – Jacob
The Cold was difficult at first to cope with, but after the temperatures dipped into single digits, anything above 30 felt like a nice day. Looking back, it’s funny to think when we lived in SoCal 60s felt cold. Also, having the right coat and winter gear makes all the difference. – Esther
Getting Around the City – When I moved I was very stressed out about getting around. I am a person that generally doesn’t have a good sense of direction at all (like, North South East West). I didn’t have an iPhone at the time and often times went the wrong way on the subway. On my first day of school I was late because I went the wrong way and was very disoriented. Navigating can be disorienting and can be very stressful, but once you feel comfortable with it, it’s one of the most gratifying things and makes you feel like you belong. – Caty
The number of people, crowds, and the noise was hard for me to adjust to. – Ted
The “New York Attitude” – The hardest thing for me to adjust to was the “New York attitude”. Being from the South, I wasn’t used to such direct and forward personalities, especially ones that didn’t smile as much as I do, but I’ve learned that it is a kind of realness that I can really appreciate now. I know I can generally experience people and things as they are, and it has helped me to embrace the ups and downs honestly and develop and grow myself as well. A close second hardest thing to adjust to for me continues to be the winter cold. I feel like I’m still learning how to layer and wear enough clothing because my brain just doesn’t understand why it is so cold sometimes. Some days I just pray I’m wearing enough. – Charlene
Downsizing – We moved from a house twice the size of our NYC apartment that also had an attic, garage and plenty of closets, so it’s been an adjustment learning to live in a smaller space. I did a LOT of purging before we moved – selling and donating furniture, clothes, etc., which helped – and have gotten creative with storage to maximize space. I’ve also had to adjust to a different schedule with my dog – we had a yard at our old house which made it easy to quickly let him out instead of a walk if I was in a rush or the weather wasn’t great. Now, regardless of weather, I’m out walking him a few times a day. – Julia
2. Do you have any tips for apartment hunting? How did you find your place?
Watch carefully how apartments list their monthly rent. For newer buildings, there could be hidden costs like amenities. Also, if they have promotions with free months, they can be tricky with how they calculate it to make the monthly price sound cheaper. For example, the listed rent might be $3800 with two months for free. That sounds like you’re getting two months for free and the remaining 12 months at $3800 a month, but it’s actually closer to $4400 a month because they calculated their numbers to be at $3800 for 14 months instead. – Esther & Jacob
Streeteasy! Also, know that you’re not going to get everything on your wish list (or you can. You just have to pay a million dollars.) I definitely recommend looking at the no-fee rental options before moving onto one that has a fee. Make sure you know what is important to you, set a budget that makes sense, and do some of the homework so you have a good sense of where you want to be. Do you want to be in a certain neighborhood? Is being close to transportation important? Or are you on a very strict budget? – Caty & Ted
Don’t Panic. There are plenty of ways to find housing opportunities. – I’ve moved a number of times and have lived in different parts of Queens, Brooklyn, and now Manhattan. My main tip would be – don’t panic! There are always housing opportunities you can find even one week out from when you might need to move. A few popular ways to find apartments are: ask friends (someone usually knows someone who needs a roommate), look carefully on Craigslist (I’ve gotten lucky a few times, but be sure to do your research), or stay at a sublet for a short time so you can keep looking. As another option, there are also dorm style living situations you can apply for. I’ve done all of these before, and it has turned out well so far. – Charlene
Use a Broker – We were fortunate to have a corporate relocation package, and as part of that had a broker who helped us with our apartment hunt. As first-timers in the city, she was a great resource because she understood what we were looking for, suggested neighborhoods we should consider, and helped coordinate everything with our search which took a lot of the stress off of us. The hardest part was finding a place we loved that also accepts dogs as big as ours! My advice would be to spend as much time in the city as you can before committing to a lease – find a short-term sublet, crash with a friend, or even just visit for a few days and explore neighborhoods. This way you can figure out what is important to you in a building or location, and what will drive you nuts before you commit to a lease. – Julia
3. Do you mostly dine out, order in, or cook at home?
We cook at home the most to save up and eat at places we really want to try rather than eating out more often at places that might be mediocre. There are so many delivery services and you can almost always find a promotion for them. Seamless is by far used the most by anyone we know. We tried many of them once with their promotional codes. Overall, we don’t use it much unless we’re at a friend’s place. We would seamless it more often if we lived in an area with better food. – Esther & Jacob
It’s not even ordered in. The word is Seamless. – Caty & Ted
I dine out for a majority of my meals because there are endless delicious things to eat in NY and frequent new restaurant openings for every craving (at any hour!). When I do cook, it is together with my friends. – Charlene
I’d say my split is cook at home 70% of the time and dine out 30%, and order Seamless just 2-3 times a month. I love to cook so I’ve kept that up since moving, but not as much as I used to. – Julia
4. How do you grocery shop and/or what’s your favorite app to order food with?
We use Google Express for non-perishable items or heavy things since it’s free shipping with a minimum order. There are a couple local grocery stores to grab last minute essentials but the ones near us don’t have a great selection and are pricier. We also try to bring a backpack with us so that whenever we’re out, we can pick up small items here and there – Esther & Jacob
When we grocery shop, we use Amazon Fresh the most. – Caty & Ted
For groceries, my go-to spot is Trader Joe’s UWS, and I buy only as much as I can carry. In terms of apps, I don’t use any regularly, but FreshDirect is popular and seems to provides quality food and deliveries. – Charlene
I live about 10 blocks from a Whole Foods so I do most of my grocery shopping there and carry it back – it’s easy, especially if my husband is with me to share the load. I had a coupon for FreshDirect so I’ve had groceries delivered a few times as well – I haven’t been blown away by the quality of product but it’s nice to have for stocking up on heavy items or when I don’t have time/feel like running to the grocery that week. – Julia
5. What do you do to get away from the busyness of the city?
We try to go on adventures during weekdays and non-peak hours. We avoid going out during the holidays and avoid the subway during rush hour. Since we work from home, it also doesn’t feel as overwhelming. Also, when the weather gets nicer, we plan on spending more time Upstate to be outdoors – Esther & Jacob
We stay inside – Caty & Ted
It’s important to take time for yourself, no matter where you are. A fun and easy thing I do to get away from the New York busyness is to go to a Korean Spa with a few friends. King Spa is a good one that has a shuttle that picks up and drops off to/from Ktown and usually has a decent Groupon deal. You can relax in heated rooms, have authentic Korean food (don’t forget to order the iced sweet rice drink!), get a massage, and soak in a tub. – Charlene
The Parks in the City – Since my commute to work is typically the distance from my bed to my desk in the living room, I get to avoid the business of the city on most days, which makes going out in the evenings and weekends more tolerable. I love the parks in the city as a way to get away as well – Stuyvesant Park has my favorite dog run for Porter, and Madison Square Park is nice and close to my apartment. Plus, it has Shake Shack. – Julia
6. What’s your preferred way to get around the city? And why?
We use the subway the most. – Esther & Jacob
Subway because it’s the most convenient. I would love to sit in a car instead, but I always regret it because of traffic. – Caty & Ted
I love taking the subway to get around the city and am happy to not be driving anymore. For the most part, the stations are conveniently located, and it’s often fastest to get to my destination that way. It is another expense to account for each month, but it is still more affordable and easier than having a car. Walking is also a great way to see the city from a different perspective and get good exercise at the same time. I’m learning to love the bus more too. Google maps is my friend and gets me everywhere I need to go! – Charlene
My general rule is that I will walk anywhere that is less than three subway stops away, which is typically about a 20-minute walk. More than that and I will usually take the subway. I try to reserve cabs and Ubers for bad weather and late nights. – Julia
7. Any other tips to give to people moving here?
The city is as overwhelming as you make it. Wherever you are, it’s about who you spend your time with and what you spend your time doing. Besides work, your pace of life is up to you. – Esther & Jacob
I think living in NY is an experience that everyone should have at some point in their life. It’s such a great place that caters something for everyone. It’s a place you’ll learn about yourself and push yourself out of your comfort zone – Caty & Ted
Come and enjoy everything this city has! It is a place for dreamers and believers to experience the world’s best of anything you love. The key is to keep your head up and trust that things will be ok. – Charlene
If you have the interest and the means to move here, do it. When the opportunity came my way I was hesitant at first because I was intimidated by the city and wasn’t sure how I like it, but now I am so glad I got over that fear and can honestly say that I love being a New Yorker! – Julia
Esther and Jacob are the founders of Local Adventurer, which is one of the top 50 travel blogs in the world. They believe that adventure can be found both near and far and hope to inspire others to explore locally. They explore a new city every year and are currently in NYC.
This post is brought to you in partnership with CORT for IZEA. All opinions are always our own.
Thank you for supporting the brands that make Local Adventurer possible.
We’ve been living in NYC for almost two months now and we’ve wanted to give you a tour of our new apartment, which had beenlooking a little saduntil we got our furniture a couple weeks ago.
The first year we moved from Atlanta to LA, we packed up a huge moving truck and drove it across the country. Every year we moved to a new city, we got rid of more of our stuff and by the 4th year, we realized it’s not worth moving any large furniture. In Portland, we bought cheap pieces of furniture that we later sold when it came time to move.
When we moved NYC (our 5th city), we only brought what we could fit in a minivan rental. After piling in our clothes, outdoor gear, and our cats, it didn’t leave much space for anything else.
This year, instead of buying cheap furniture and dealing with the hassle of selling it later, we decided to try something different – renting.
Our Experience Renting Furniture with CORT
The ordering process was easy. When we visited their website, we were prompted to put in our zip code, and it let us look through what was available at the nearest rental center. From there, we picked what we wanted and added it to our cart.
Some of the items didn’t have measurements, and when I had a few questions about pieces I couldn’t find (like just a box spring), I was able to chat with their support and they helped me by adding it to my order. After finalizing our rental, we scheduled a delivery time, and within a couple of days, our apartment was furnished!
TIP: Make sure you check all your furniture when they arrive. I realized after they left, that my chair was wobbly and the lamp was a bit crooked, so I emailed the showroom and they had them replaced within a couple of days.
This is the perfect solution for people who move often like us or if you need some placeholder furniture while you decide or save up for your adult furniture. We’re over the cheap college furniture and want nice grown-up pieces now.
THE GRAND TOUR
Now, here’s our tiny 375 sq ft studio apartment! We have a few tricks to make the most out of our place and make it look more spacious (which we’ll share in a post soon).
The kitchen is still something I’m still working on. I really don’t like using the top of the cabinets as storage.
WATCH OUR VLOG
Our New NYC Studio Apartment - YouTube
Definitely an improvement right?
ESTHER + JACOB
Esther and Jacob are the founders of Local Adventurer, which is one of the top 50 travel blogs in the world. They believe that adventure can be found both near and far and hope to inspire others to explore locally. They explore a new city every year and are currently in NYC.
This post contains some affiliate links, where we receive a small commission on sales of the products that are linked at no additional cost to you. All opinions are always our own. Read our full disclosure for more info. Thank you for supporting the brands that make Local Adventurer possible.
Yellowstone National Park is the world’s first national park and is known for its beautiful hot springs, mudpots, geysers, and incredible wildlife. We’ve visited twice, and out of all the national parks we’ve explored so far, it’s been our least favorite because of the type of visitors it attracts. It’s a popular park and even their newspaper will tell you to pack your patience. Here’s our in-depth guide to help you see all the top attractions and then find ways to escape the crowds.
YOUR GUIDE TO YELLOWSTONE – BEST THINGS TO DO IN YELLOWSTONE NATIONAL PARK
First of all, the park is huge and can be overwhelming with all there is to do. It’s the 8th largest national park in the US and spans 3,472 square miles with a low elevation of 5,282 feet and high elevation of 11,358 feet. There are over 900 miles of trails and 80% of the park is covered in forest.
Most of the park is located in the northeast corner of Wyoming and spills over to Idaho and Montana. There are 5 entrances to the park and once you’re in the roads form a large figure 8. To help you navigate through the park, we will highlight each major area of the park, and what we thought was worthwhile.
We’ll be writing more detailed guides on each area of the park.
We always start our visit to the park at one of the Visitor Centers. You can learn more about the current conditions of the park as well as get insight from rangers on how to spend your time there. They are typically open late May to early October unless otherwise noted below. Hours vary based on location and season (see them here).
Albright (Mammoth) Visitor Center (open year-round)
Canyon Visitor Education Center (open late April to early November)
Fishing Bridge Visitor Center & Trailside Museum
Grant Visitor Center
Madison Information Station and Trailside Museum
Museum of the National Park Ranger (open late May to late September)
Norris Geyser Basin Museum and Information Station
Old Faithful Visitor Education Center
West Thumb Information Station
West Yellowstone Visitor Information Center (open year-round)
MAMMOTH HOT SPRINGS AREA
Though you can start by exploring the area from where you enter, for this guide, we’ll be starting from the northeast corner of the park and going clockwise. Mammoth Hot Springs is one of the most popular areas of the park where you see the iconic terraces.
Albright Visitor Center – originally quarters for single Army officers but now you can learn about the history and wildlife of Yellowstone here.
Mammoth Hot Springs Terraces – walk along the boardwalks and stairs that take you through the hydrothermal terraces that are constantly changing. The springs are colorful when active and white when dry. What you see: Opal Terrace, Liberty Cap, Hymen Terrace, Devil’s Thumb, Minerva Terrace, Palette Spring, Cleopatra Terrace, New Blue Spring, Main Terrace, Canary Spring, Cupid Spring, Grassy Spring, Dryad Spring, Mound Terrace, Jupiter Terrace, and Reservoir Springs.
Upper Terrace Drive – 1.5-mile drive on a paved road. It wasn’t as scenic as we were told, but it’s not a crowded area and you see Prospect Terrace, New Highland Terrace, Orange Spring Mound, Bath Lake, White Elephant Back Terrace, and Angel Terrace. Horse Corral parking area has a view of Fort Yellowstone and Canary Springs.
Historic Fort Yellowstone – take a tour of this wilderness outpost that was used in the 1800s to manage poaching, vandalism, and squatters
Heritage and Research Center – a few miles away from Mammoth Hot Springs is this state-of-the-art facility that houses Yellowstone’s museum collection, archives, library, and archeology lab
Old Gardiner Road – see the scenery and Yellowstone River along this dirt road for driving, cyclists, hikers, and cross-country skiers. You can see elk, bison, and antelope here.
Roosevelt Arch – beautiful stone arch at the North Entrance dedicated to the president who was famous for his conservation efforts.
Boiling River – you can take a dip in the secret but not-so-secret Boiling River where the boiling water of the hot springs meets the cool water of the river making it just the right temperature to enjoy. It can get really crowded.
Undine Falls – upper and lower falls of lava creek. It’s a quick stop.
Popular Day Hikes
Beaver Ponds Loop (5 miles RT, 3-4 hours, moderately strenuous)
Bunsen Peak (4.6 miles RT, 2-3 hours, △1,300 feet, moderately strenuous) – tallest mountain in the Gallatin Range
Lava Creek (8.5 miles RT, 2-3 hours, moderately strenuous)
Rescue Creek (16 miles RT, 8-12 hours, strenuous)
Sepulcher Mountain (11 miles RT, 6-8 hours, △3,400 feet, strenuous)
The Tower-Roosevelt Area is special because Thomas Moran’s paintings of Tower Falls and Calcite Springs Overlook played an important role in the establishment of Yellowstone National Park in 1872.
Blacktail Plateau Drive – 6-mile scenic one-way drive through elk creek gorge that is partly paved and partly gravel. Avoid driving it if it rained recently. It’s a popular area to spot black bears. We drove it three times on different days and unfortunately didn’t see any here.
Petrified Tree – Specimen Ridge has the largest concentration of petrified trees in the world.
Roosevelt Lodge – built in 1920
Calcite Springs Overlook – short walk to see the Grand Canyon of Yellowstone at the narrowest point, a 132 waterfall, and basalt columns
Tower Fall – 132-foot waterfall that’s been documented since the 1800s.
Lamar Buffalo Ranch – historic ranch originally built to increase bison herd sizes
Lamar Valley – one of the most popular spots for wildlife viewing. We only saw pronghorn and faraway wolves through binoculars, but you can also find bison, black bears, bighorn sheep, elk, grizzlies, and mule deer too.
Popular Day Hikes
Garnet Hill Loop (7.6 miles RT, 4-5 hours, moderate)
Hellroaring (6.2 miles RT, 3-4 hours, strenuous)
Lost Lake Loop (2.8 miles RT, 1-2 hours, △300 feet, moderate)
Slough Creek (to First Meadow: 3.4 miles RT, 2-5 hours, moderate)
Trout Lake (1.2 miles RT, 0.5-1.5 hours, moderate) – see river otters, cutthroat trout, and waterfowl
Yellowstone River Picnic Area (3.7 miles RT, 2-3 hours, moderate)
CANYON VILLAGE AREA
This area is known as the Grand Canyon of Yellowstone. It’s roughly 20 miles long and has one of the most popular day hikes, plus gorgeous views of waterfalls and wildlife.
Canyon Visitor Education Center – learn about the supervolcano, geyser, and hot springs at Yellowstone
North Rim Drive – lots of pullouts to see the canyon. Viewpoints include Lookout Point, Grand View, and Inspiration Point to see Lower Falls of Yellowstone.
Lower Falls – the larger of the two falls, check out this 308 ft beauty from Lookout Point, Red Rock Point, Artist Point, Brink and Lower Falls Trail, South Rim Trail, and Uncle Tom’s Trail.
South Rim Drive – leads to Uncle Tom’s Trail and Artist Point.
Artist’s Point – one of the most popular spots in the park giving you a great view of the canyon.
Upper Falls – at 109 ft, check out the falls from Upper Falls Trail.
Mount Washburn Hike – hike to the 10,243 feet peak to get panoramic views and look for bears along the hillsides
Chittenden Road – short drive up to a great view near Mount Washburn
Hayden Valley – see grizzly bears, bald eagles, bison, black bears, elk, and wolves
Mount Washburn (from Dunraven Pass: 6 miles RT, 3-6 hours, △1,343 feet, strenuous || from Chittenden Road: 5 miles RT, 2.5-4 hours, △1,393 feet, strenuous)
Uncle Tom’s Trail (0.7 mile RT, 1-2 hours, △275, moderate) – great spot to see Lower Falls.
FISHING BRIDGE AREA
The Fishing Bridge area includes Lake Village and Bridge Bay. As the name implies, it was historically a popular spot to fish, but now that fishing is no longer allowed, it’s become a place to watch fish instead. Check out the bubbling sounds and smells of the mud pots and fumaroles. This was one of the least exciting part of the park for us, but it was also a good place to get away from the crowds.
Fishing Bridge – watch fish and check out the bridge that was built in 1937
Yellowstone Lake – 136-square mile basin part of the large caldera left by a large volcanic eruption
Mud Volcano & Sulphur Caldron – check out mudpots and fumaroles (steam vents). We also saw a cute group of short-tailed weasels here.
Pelican Valley – another great spot for wildlife viewing in hopes to spot grizzly bears, bison, elk, and more
Natural Bridge – short hike to a beautiful natural bridge
Elephant Back Mountain (3.5 miles RT, 1.5-2.5 hours, △800 feet, moderately strenuous) – panorama of Yellowstone Lake
Natural Bridge (2.5 miles RT, 1-2 hours, easy)
Pelican Creek (.6 mile RT, 0.5-1 hour, easy)
Pelican Valley (6.2 miles RT, 3-4 hours, moderately easy)
Storm Point (2.3 miles RT, 1-2 miles, easy)
WEST THUMB AREA
The West Thumb area is home to the largest geyser basin on the shore of Yellowstone Lake. There are tons of hydrothermal features and even some underwater geysers. You can explore via the boardwalks or do a guided kayaking trip. This was my personal favorite area of the park. It was moderately trafficked in comparison to other areas of the park and had beautiful blue hot springs.
West Thumb Geyser Basin – hydrothermal features along Yellowstone Lake. What you see: Fumaroles, Twin Geysers, Hillside Geyser, Abyss Pool, Black Pool, Big Cone Fishing Cone, Lakeshore Geyser, Lakeside Spring, Seismograph and Bluebell Pools, Thumb Paint Pots, Surging Spring, Collapsing Pool, Ledge Spring, Percolating Spring, Thumb Geyser, Perforated Pool, Ephedra Spring, and Blue Funnel Spring.
Grant Village Visitor Center – learn about the role fire that has shaped the park
Shoshone Lake – second largest lake in Yellowstone
Snake River – originates in Yellowstone and continues through Grand Teton National Park
Popular Day Hikes
Duck Lake (0.8 mile RT, .5-1 hour, easy)
Lake Overlook (1.5 miles RT, 1 hour, △400, moderately strenuous)
Riddle Lake (4.8 miles, 2-3 hours, easy)
Shoshone Lake (5.8 miles RT, 2-3 hours, easy)
Yellowstone Lake Overlook (1.5 miles RT, 1-2 hours, moderately strenuous)
West Thumb Geyser Basin (0.6 mile RT, 0.5-1 hour, easy)
OLD FAITHFUL AREA
This area is easily the most crowded area of the park with the two most popular attractions: Old Faithful and the Grand Prismatic Spring. There are 3 main geyser basins: Upper, Midway, and Lower.
Upper Geyser Basin has the largest number of fragile features in the park (150 hydrothermal features in one square mile) including Old Faithful, Beehive Geyser, Castle, Grand, Daisy, and Riverside, Morning Glory Pool, and more.
Old Faithful Visitor Center, Upper Geyser Basin – learn more about the geology of this amazing geyser and find out when to expect it to erupt (usually between 60-110 minutes between each eruption. See prediction times here).
Old Faithful Inn, Upper Geyser Basin – built in 1903-4, it is one of the last remaining log hotels in the US.
Midway Geyser Basin – Yellowstone’s largest hot spring, Grand Prismatic Spring
Lower Geyser Basin – Fountain Paint Pots and Great Fountain (which only erupts twice a day within a 2-hour window)
Lonestar Star Geyser – this geyser erupts every three hours and since it’s a bit off the main boardwalks, it will typically be less crowded
Popular Day Hikes
Fairy Falls (5 miles RT, 2-4 hours, easy) – tally skinny waterfall with a great view of Grand Prismatic Spring
Grand Prismatic Spring Overlook (1.2 miles RT, 0.5-1.5 hours, easy)
Lone Star Geyser (4.8 miles RT, 2-3 hours, easy)
Mallard Lake (6.8 miles RT, 4-6 hours, moderate-difficult)
Mystic Falls (2.4 miles RT, 1.5-2.5 hours, moderate-difficult)
Observation Point (1.6 miles RT, 1-2 hours, △160 feet, difficult)
Artist Paintpots and Firehole Falls both fall in the Madison Area. There are lots of short easy hikes to check out and even a swimming area that’s popular on hot, summer days.
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It is one of my favorite cities and one that I keep going back to. I love the vibrant color of the city. We’ve talked about living in SF for a year, but so far it was hard for us to stomach the rent cost. Maybe after a year in NYC, though, it might soften the blow.
With the help of our friends Hsiao (just moved from SF to NYC) and Young (lived there for 10+ years), we put together the ultimate San Francisco bucket list for both first-time visitors and those living in the city who need a little extra inspiration to get out there and explore.
There’s so much to see and do packed within 49 square miles. On my personal list, I still have 300+ things I want to check out, but I thought that might get overwhelming. As we go back to visit, we’ll continue to update and modify this list. We also tried our best to group them not just by category but by location too. There’s a map at the bottom, though, to help you see what’s around you.
Alcatraz Island – you can do the audio tour or the night tour to make it spookier (only a few hundred available per night). You can also try to win the lottery for an Alcatraz sleepover – only 18 overnights per year. Photo Tip: Inside you can get a view of SF from a window in a cell block. (map)
Golden Gate Bridge / Marin Headlands – walk across or bike across to Sausalito. It’s not for inexperienced bikers and a lot farther than you think. The Bridge itself is 1.7 miles. They have bike + ferry packages. There is vehicle traffic-free Sat April through Sept where you can run, ride, walk on the bridge.
Sausalito – cute houseboats and a great view of the skyline.
Fisherman’s Wharf, North Beach/Telegraph Hill – Pier 39 to visit the sea lions and have clam chowder in a bread bowl at Boudin at the Wharf.
Ghirardelli Square, Russian Hill – according to our local friends, the food isn’t good and this is the dumbest attraction in SF (think M&M store in Times Square), but most tourists still do it.
Lombard Street, Russian Hill – Crookedest Street of San Francisco with 8 hairpin turns. The best photo opps are from the bottom since you can only see the first two turns from the top.
Japantown– Peace Plaza and Pagoda for your photo opp, eat ramen and Shabu Shabu, play Japanese arcade games, get your Japanese nail art done, and end the night in a karaoke room.
Painted Ladies, Alamo Square, Western Addition – The park is a nice place to picnic. The houses are often mistaken as the Full House house, The actual house is down the street (1709 Broderick – it was purchased by the show creator. Photo Tip: go mid-morning after the sun peeks over the buildings across the street or on a cloudy day).
San Francisco Cable Cars – You can ride the entire 2.1-mile route or portions of it. Bring exact change. The best views are along Hyde between Chestnut and Bay St and California and Drumm is less touristy. Best photos are from the front-left side and on the outside runner. Another option is the Historic Street Cars for $2 you can get on the F-Line and see Civic Center, Downtown and Fisherman’s Wharf instead of paying for Grayline Bus.
Chinatown – The country’s largest Chinatown. The tourist side is Dragon’s Gate and the local side is towards North Beach on Stockton St (SF’s “Little Italy”). The local side is mainly made up of small groceries, herb shops, and old school divey Chinese bars that have strong pours (go at your own risk). Golden Gate bakery has famous egg tarts and China Live has one of the best Sheng Jiang Bao in SF.
San Francisco Ferry Building, Embarcadero / SoMa(map) pick up some blue bottle, sample or buy some McEvoy Ranch lotions (formerly 80 acres), stop by Humphry Slocombe for the famous Secret Breakfast Ice Cream. Also, if you go on a Tues, Thurs, or Saturday, you can also check out the Ferry Plaza Farmer’s Market.
Bay Bridge (San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge) – the walking/cycling path. You need a car or it’s a long trek to get to the start on the East Bay.
49-Mile Scenic Drive – Starts and ends at City Hall. It’s a PITA to drive around the city though. Be warned.
Murals in the Mission – Balmy Alley Murals, Cypress St, and Lilac St are close together then Clarion Alley is 1 mi north. The Mission can be a choose your adventure. Stay in Valencia to see the gentrified “nice” stuff or you can go up and down 24th st and see a lot of the old school Mexican owned businesses. Artists offer cultural guided mural walks on weekends starting from Precita Eyes Mural Arts Center.
California Academy of Sciences, Golden Gate Park (map) – World’s greenest museum with a planetarium, natural history museum, aquarium, scientific research program and a four-story living rainforest with 1.7 million native plant species. Check out: 21+ adventure on Thursdays and Yoga class in the aquarium.
De Young Fine Arts Museum of San Francisco, Golden Gate Park (map) – Hamon Observation Tower and Gift Shop gives you 360 views of the city for free. Friday Nights in June there are after hour art programs, cocktails, lectures, performances, and workshops.
The Exploratorium, North Beach/Telegraph Hill – the learning lab with 600 hands-on exhibits, feel around the Tactile Dome. Exploratorium After Dark on Thurs Nights 18+, cocktails and music. – fun for all ages. so much to do. regular visits allow a couple hours. it can get crowded so popular areas will have a line.
The Institute of Illegal Images, Mission – SF’s LSD Museum – schedule a visit with Mark McCloud, who has collected over 30k sheets of acid tabs (also read this interesting article on how LSD came to SF through the CIA)
Oakland Zoo– better than San Francisco Zoo, which is covered in fog 90% of the time.
UC Berkeley Campus – Sather Tower gives you good views of the campus and city. They started charging.
Angel Island State Park, Tiburon – Take a ferry ride. 13 miles of hiking trails. Hike to the highest spot Mt Livermore for 360 view of SF skyline. Camp here with unbelievable views. Popular with kayakers that launch from SF or Sausalito. Beware of currents. Take a guided tour for beginners.
Golden Gate Park – one of the largest man-made parks in the world. It’s California’s Central Park but 20% larger. Points of Interest: Paddle boating in Stow Lake, the Buffalo Field, Rose Garden, Shakespeare Garden, Lawn Bowling + Archery (Sunday at Noon), Lindy in the Park (free swing lessons between Richmond and Sunset districts), Casting Pools (practice fly fishing here), and don’t forget to Find the Faery Door (there are more throughout SF. You can read messages left for the fairies and their answers here).
Hawk Hill, Marin Headlands – see the entire 8980 ft span of the Golden Gate and the SF skyline.
Golden Gate Bridge Welcome Center, Presidio and get your stamp.
Vista Point is the popular shot of Golden Gate, but make sure you also head up into Marin Headlands also.
Lands End, Golden Gate NRA – Lands End Trail is a popular and easy hike that takes you to Sutro Baths, the Labyrinth, and Eagle Point. Sometimes you spot sea lions, dolphins, and migrating grey whales. Wear sneakers. Get drinks or food afterward at Cliff House.
The Presidio of San Francisco, Golden Gate NRA – former US Army military fort turned into a park. There are 11 miles of hiking trails and you get views of the Bay, Alcatraz, the city, and Golden Gate. The park encompasses Baker Beach, Marshall’s Beach, Crissy Field, Fort Point and more. Walk Lovers Lane, Hike to Inspiration Point (views of SF Bay, Alcatraz, Angel Island and the Presidio forest), walk the Golden Gate Promenade, Batteries to Bluffs Trail, and see 3 installations by Andy Goldsworthy – the Spire, Wood Line, and Tree Fall. Presidio Picnic os on Sundays with food trucks and games.
Ocean Beach, Golden Gate NRA – SF’s longest beach and most reliable surfing spot. Skimboard, bike, skate the esplanade, fly kites. Adjacent to Land’s End. swimming is not recommended due to strong riptides. Bonfires are first come, first served and fun with a group of friends. BYOB.
Baker Beach, Presidio, Golden Gate NRA – up-close view of Golden Gate, great at sunset. Popular spot with portrait and wedding photographers.
Crissy Field, Presidio, Golden Gate NRA – view of the skyline and Golden Gate. Great place to barbeque and fly kites.
Stinson Beach, Golden Gate NRA – Camp or go to the nude beach. – whole day thing and can be difficult to get to if it’s a nice day. So many cars.
Coit Tower Hike, Telegraph Hill – 210 ft tower with views of entire city, bay, and Transamerica Pyramid is framed by tower’s arches. Lots of stairs that take you through cool parts of the area – Climb the Filbert Steps or Greenwich street stairs to get there. $7 for the elevator to the top). Check out the free views first. It’s a great View but not sure if the price is worth because there is a fence all around the top. Allot more time if you want to find the famous Parrots of Telegraph Hill. They’re also at Cole Valley and Fort Mason.
Twin Peaks, Nob Hill – Two hills at 925 ft in the center of SF. You can drive to the top and get the best view of the city at sunset. It’s super windy so pack layers. Tourists have also gotten mugged here, so be aware of your surroundings.
Sutro Tower, Twin Peaks – Can’t beat the downtown views. You’re not allowed to the top of it though.
Crown Beach, Alameda – see SF skyline from the East Bay.
Fort Point National Historic Site, Presidio – southern side just under Golden Gate and is very photogenic. There are ranger-led candlelit tours for free but reserve in advance. Also high five hopper’s hands on the fence and surf here when the conditions are just right.
Mount Davidson, Sherwood Forest – the highest point in the city at 928 ft. It gives you views of Twin Peaks and downtown.
Kirby Cove, Marin Headlands, Sausalito, Golden Gate NRA – The “secret” swing is no longer there. Great camping spot and recreational area with a view of Golden Gate
Lyon Street Steps, Pacific Heights – run, walk, enjoy the view from the top for a workout.
Dolores Park / Mission Dolores Park, Castro – pick up a burrito, a cone at Bi-rite, Pizzeria Delfina, or Tartine Bakery and bring it for a picnic. The view NE over Dolores park offers a great view of the greenery and urban skyline.